First: I am really, really excited about this launch. Like seriously.
Flock is one of those rare applications that really solves a problem people have. It takes something that, to this day, is really hard and annoying -- and practically makes it magical. It makes your life easier and more joyful, which is something that technology should be doing more of, but unfortunately doesn't.
Yes, I acknowledge my bias. Trust me though, if I wasn't really excited, I wouldn't take the time to write this here. But I am going to, because Flock is, in my opinion, just that good.
So, what does it do?
Let's talk about the typical way people share photos. Pretend you and some of your friends go out to get some food and see a concert. You each take some photos. When you get home, you want to share these photos with your friends -- well, thankfully Facebook exists! You each can upload your photos into galleries, fantastic!
Except... now each of you has a separate gallery. And Tom really is slow, he didn't upload his photos. "I'll get around to it", but you know that you'll still be waiting in a year -- if he ever remembers. Oh man, now you have to go share the gallery and hope that everybody sees it, and who the hell knows what stories Facebook chooses to show everybody... well, you can tag people so it emails them, but that's quite a bit of work!
Now you've spent three hours on this, longer than you spent at the concert! This entire workflow is a royal pain in the ass. It requires far too much human interaction and intervention and effort, and half of it never gets done.
Enter Flock: view my Flock event!
That is a web gallery that was assembled by Flock this morning. The people you see took photos with their phones, then they each got a notification from Flock (which they had previously installed): "Hey, you took some photos with Shona, Sunil, and others!"
That keys you to launch the Flock app, where it has already discovered that you took some photos near some of your friends. You can then select which photos you want to share and hit the button to do so. (You still have control over what you share!)
Your friends then get a notification that you've shared photos with them. Flock enables you to "like/+1/<3" the photos and also leave comments on them. This is shared with everybody who is on the album and you get push notifications so you can stay on top of things.
So, what actually happened here?
Without giving away too much of the secret sauce, the mojo is that Flock combines your Facebook information (people you know) with geographical information (where you took each photo). It combines this with all of your friends who use Flock to determine when you have taken photos together. It then pushes notifications down to you to let you know, and handles the heavy lifting of building a group photo album.
Instead of relying on everybody to upload photos, tag them, and then watching Facebook for them to appear -- that entire workflow is now reduced to the Magic Point: you don't have to figure out how to do it, Flock takes care of it. You still get total control and can share or not share as you like, but now you get to live your life as you like without all of the headaches of sharing photos between friends.
And before you ask: yes, this launch is iPhone only, and yes, it requires you to use and connect to Facebook. I know that rules out some of you, but for those of you who fit this bill... give it a whirl, let me know what you think.
Also, of course, Flock is only useful when people have it. Get your friends and family on it and see what happens. :)